This is the final installment in the “Voyaging with Velella” series by ASA writer-at-large Meghan Harvey. Meghan, her husband Prescott, and their cat Nessie have been cruising for the last 8 months in Mexico and the Pacific Northwest.
I find it rather fitting that we should “swallow the hook” in a place called Portland. The Land Where Boats Come to Port.
The moment I stepped onto the dock in Portland, Oregon, it hit me that we were finally home. These were the docks I would walk over and over again on my way to work, these were the showers that I would use every day, this
would be my neighborhood.
No sooner had I gotten halfway up the dock towards shore than, BAM, I almost ran into a little wooden sign hanging over an ASA sailing school. If I didn’t feel like I was home before, now I surely did, with ASA right down the dock from us! Passion Yachts ASA Sailing School has a darling on-the-dock classroom, with a wall of windows overlooking their fleet of Hunters and other small sailboats tied up outside. I made a mental note to go introduce myself. . . after showering.
First, we had plans with some people we’d been introduced to through friends of a friend. Upon shaking hands and exchanging names, they informed us that they already knew all about us. They’d been following Velella’s voyage on
this very blog for months! They have a 20-footer tied up just down the island from us, and we made plans to go sailing together soon.
The next day, we were headed out to the library (one of the very first things I like to do in a new city), and we had yet another ASA run-in. This time literally. We brushed shoulders with a very familiar-looking woman, but sometimes it’s hard to place people, having met them over thousands of miles of docks over the last couple years. We spun around when she said “HEY!” and recognized her voice immediately—it was one of the Croatia Flotilla 2010 participants, Diane! We said, “What are you doing here?!” and she told us that Passion Yachts ASA School was where she sailed out of every Wednesday night. Having met this woman on the other side of the planet, I couldn’t believe how small ASA made our world feel!
The cruising sailor’s range is limitless, but at the same time our communities are very small. I can read the Pacific sailing rags now (such as 48 North and Latitude 38) and identify half of the writers by boat name. I used to not believe sailors when, parting ways, they’d say “I’m sure we’ll run into each other again someday, in some remote anchorage in the world!”
But we’ve had way too many of those small-world sailing experiences now to deny that it’s absolutely true.
Flying my ASA burgee all up and down the coasts started conversations that started friendships. We received invitations to stay at ASA sailors’ homes, and we even received wedding gifts from ASA members we’d met only briefly.
Within the sailing world, ASA’s community reaches wider and wider every day. With a network like that, I rather feel like it doesn’t matter where you are at all—home is where the boats are. . . and where the boats are, there is ASA.
Meghan, Prescott, and Nessie are settling in to home in Portland for the time being, but they’re already talking about when they’ll be able to set off cruising again.